The enviable cosmopolitan lifestyle of Buenos Aires City wins over
This post is also available in: Spanish
You may see them in Paris, London, New York, Milan or any other metropolis. Forever comparing with a mythical South American capital, they gesticulate in a strangely accented Spanish: “we have (do/get) that in Buenos Aires!”
They are the porteños (port dwellers) and you can´t call them boisterous: Buenos Aires is all those cities, and then some.
Founded in 1580, the city received migrant waves from countries as diverse as Spain, Italy, England, USA, China, Korea, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Syria and Lebanon. This resulted in a vibrant and open metropolis –the most European in South America- global even before globalization.
Metrobus station and BA symbol the Obelisk
The Argentine capital has long been an outstanding tourist destination, seducing by emblematic neighborhoods, numerous attractions, excellent local and international gastronomy options, soccer, tango arts and culture, shows and performances, shopping and nightlife. And of course, the locals: open, friendly, exuberant, ingenious, beautifully groomed and always eager to go out with friends.
Buenos Aires is a transport, shipping and passenger hub ensuring world connectivity. Two airports cater to 31 airlines while regional hubs Sao Paulo and Santiago de Chile are only 2 hour´s flight away. Excellent information and communication technology and experience hosting major events, fairs, conventions and festivals make Argentina a good place for meeting and doing business in South America.
Many one-time visitors fall for the Queen of the Plata and relocate, lured also by the added advantages of excellent and low cost public transport, dynamic and progressive city governance and quality housing options. Central neighborhoods house a thriving expat community and a good number of the locals speak a second language.
1897 San Telmo produce market, the Chinese, Korean and Bolivian districts (Bajo Belgrano, Flores and Liniers) cater to local gourmets, tourists and restaurateurs.
Montserrat and San Telmo neighborhoods guard the remains of the city colonial and early years and are nowadays home for the tango, antiques and street art scenes. Colorful façades, sidewalk cafés and a bohemian feel hide restored XIX century strip houses of narrow but lush patios, skylights and brick walls. At all hours one can watch or meet people from all over the world or play at being a local with the safety net of English widely spoken around.
The 1871 yellow fever epidemic forced wealthy families to move north and start building magnificent townhouses influenced by Parisian styles. Recoleta neighborhood went directly from small farms and a cemetery to be the most cultured and European area of Buenos Aires. Wide tree lined avenues are flanked by petit hotels and small palaces now converted into apartments, with fashionable boutiques and restaurants in the ground floor. On the Eastern limit, Libertador Avenue is bordered by parks and plazas that form a “museum mile” with many cultural establishments where art lovers can see and be seen.
|Alvear Avenue, Recoleta main street is lined by many palaces|
Between 1920 and 1990 the city grew developing new neighborhoods (barrios) where people gathered around a social and sporting club, a corner café or a cinema that gave them a perceived identity. Tangos spoke of “100 barrios porteños”. Palermo, was once the land of guapos y malevos (braves and outlaws) described by its most famous son Jorge Luis Borges in poems and stories. Modern day Palermo is the trendiest area, with sub districts Palermo Hollywood (home to advertising, film and TV producers and video games firms) and Palermo Soho (home of the artsy scene) Cobbled streets with hundreds of low rise renovated houses, cafés, bistros, and trendy shops are filled at all hours with locals and tourists out for a meal, shopping or club hunting. New construction is devoted to boutique hotels and residential buildings along with many architect offices. Not in vain was Buenos Aires the first UNESCO appointed City of Design.
Palermo Soho, one of the cities gastronomical poles
In the direction of the river, Palermo Woods parks are the gathering place of hundreds who stroll, jog, bike, roller, row, exercise, picnic, bird watch, play football, visit the Planetarium, the Zoo or the Botanical Gardens or go for an oriental meal at the Japanese Garden restaurant. The area is also home to the Hippodrome, a golf course, a polo stadium and the Rural Association Fair Grounds.
Since the 1990s, the urban problems of a sprawling megalopolis encouraged downtown areas recovery. Right in the center of Buenos Aires the old port installations (abandoned since 1930) gave way to Puerto Madero, a 170 hectares development. Work began converting the old warehouses into lofts and restaurants along a dockside walkway. On the other bank there is a new layout, with high end residential buildings both mid and high rise, some still in development phase. The project is complemented by public parks, museums, hotels and office buildings and has become the most international area in the city and a financial hub. Bordering the River Plate is a 350 hectares ecological reserve. The main ferry terminal is also in Puerto Madero, providing easy access to Uruguay.
|Puerto Madero The new dock houses a yacht club, museums, shops, offices and dwellings.|
As of 1994 the inner city or Capital Federal has autonomous government and its own Constitution. Engineer Mauricio Macri -Governor since 2007– has led many changes aiming to transform the 48 neighborhoods in Buenos Aires Autonomous City (CABA) in a green, inclusive, international, innovative and cultural metropolis.
Plans to revive less developed areas foster growth in “economic districts” identified by key industries: arts, technology, design and audio visual. In those cluster areas there are tax incentives, major infrastructure programs, public space recovery and social actions with community stakeholders. Leading this value extension policy, there is a new government site in a Norman Foster designed energy efficient building in Parque Patricios.
Parallel to this decentralization process, there is a Sustainable Mobility Plan that prioritizes public transport and eco transport, and strives for safer and more ordered transit. The subway is being extended and modernized, the free public bike system and dedicated lanes are growing, there is a new urban metropolitan bus network with dedicated traffic lanes and many railroad crossings have been excavated. The multimodel metro card facilitates moving across the city, reducing emissions. More and more central streets are being pedestrianized, with improved street lighting and green spaces
Recent 2015 city elections were won by Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, of the same PRO party, so the urban improvements are expected to continue.
Researcher: Alice Bonet
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